December 27th, 2005 at 02:55am
The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, in the continual games of “Schedule Shuffles” that 2UE management insist on playing.
This time around it is John Kerr and his many loyal listeners being given the pointy end of the stick. John Kerr is being moved to weekends as of his return from holidays in late January. Stuart Bocking is taking over the weekday version of New Day Australia, thereby confirming the June rumors of this happening.
2UE claim that this was due to the recent release of the annual overnight ratings (which it seems I forgot to write an article about), this is pure nonsense as 2GB had a very large and clear lead beforehand. Certainly 2GB’s Jim Ball gained 6.8 points to be on 29.4%, but a large proportion of this could be attributed to his recent Media Watch infamy, where he had an award for media dupes named after him, due to the fact that he fell for a clearly fictional internet story about a fictional school in a fictional town banning (a fictional?) graduation.
John Kerr may have lost 3.1 points, to be on 8.9%, but he has a distince advantage over Jim Ball, in that his show is syndicated to a whole heap of stations up and down the eastern states. John has a (mostly) very loyal bunch of listeners who have formed a nice community. John might only have 108,000 listeners in Sydney on a weekly basis (not far short of 2GB’s 168,000…I don’t know how those figures work), but he has a very large audience in the eastern states which earn Southern Cross Syndication big bucks.
I will admit that, after Media Watch made a big deal of Jim Ball, I checked out the 2GB webstream to see what his show was like, and it put me to sleep…it would appear to me that Jim Ball is more interested in his own voice than that of the callers, or perhaps, he doesn’t have many callers. Either way, John has the more interesting ad entertaining show.
John was obviously told by 2UE management to keep this quiet, the only notice he gave to his listeners was a cryptic reference to “weekends” in the few Christmas Cards he sent out. Ultimately this could have meant anything, as John is well known for chatting with listeners off the air. He did signal that something was up when he said on the Christmas Cruise that “we might not be together next year” or something to that effect.
John did confirm this by email to some listeners just before Christmas, but appeared to want it kept quiet, at least until he goes on holidays at the end of this week, so you can imagine his response when, just after reading through the emails after 1am and saying “your P.S is appreciated” or something to that effect in reply to my P.S about sending 2UE letter of protest later in the week, a caller who had been sent a card enquired about the reference to weekends…it sounded like John nearly choked on a glass of water! John did at this stage, being the honest man that he is, make it public knowledge that he is moving to weekends. Whilst he made no comment about it, it was clear from the tone of his voice that he was disappointed about the move, and he was then flooded by callers who didn’t want him to move.
Now, let me make this perfectly clear, I have nothing against Stuart Bocking, I think he is a great bloke and a great presenter, and I think weekends suit him (even if I do miss George Gibson), but 2UE are making the wrong decision by moving John Kerr to the weekend. John has not only built up an internationally popular show thanks to streaming radio, but has also formed a close relationship with just about every listener and has put together (with some help), a formula which works, with guests who are willing to come into the studio at obscene hours of the early morning because John and the listeners are there to have some fun.
Southern Cross Syndication sold New Day Australia to network stations who could have easily run automated music overnight by saying that “John Kerr has a close relationship with his audience, his friendly and approachable style is great company for the hundreds of thousands of people who are working, travelling or just can’t sleep each morning between midnight and 5:30am.” They even added that “The direct benefits for your station include the advertising opportunities that exist with this type of program. Talk radio is foreground radio. Talk radio means your audience has the radio up, they’re listening and involved.” (Source: Southern Cross Syndication website, (C) 2002-2005 Southern Cross Syndication)
If you add these two statements together, it is quite clear that they are making the point that advertising during John Kerr’s show is listened to by the audience because they are taking part in the conversation which John Kerr is having. According to what Southern Cross Syndication wrote, John Kerr makes people feel like they are part of the show, he involves them.
If 2UE go ahead with this move, not only do I think that the overnight ratings will fall further, I think they will lose a lot of money from Stations pulling the plug on their New Day Australia subscription.
2UE really need to listen to what the audience want, it is very clear from the calls after the announcement that the majority of the listeners do not want John Kerr to be moved, and do not want Stuart Bocking on weekdays.
John Kerr has previously announced that he may retire at the end of this year or next year anyway, so 2UE management, let him serve out his time on weekdays, and let him go when he wants to, the audience, the sponsors, and the network stations will thank you for it.
Here at Samuel’s Blog, I have decided to start up a petition to keep John Kerr on weekdays, not only will I be writing 2UE a letter of protest over their silly move, I will also be sending them copies of the petition on a weekly basis. To sign the petition, either leave a comment here, or visit the petition page, and help us keep John Kerr on weekdays!